Occupy Thanksgiving

As we begin this year’s holiday season, it may be useful to confront the Occupy movement with the harsh reality of where its apparent economic philosophy ultimately leads.

Over the last several years, I have pointed out each November that Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. We learned in grade school that it evolved from celebrations the early Pilgrims held to commemorate their bountiful harvests at Plymouth colony in the 1620s.

The following short video explains what really happened, and should serve as a reminder that spreading the wealth didn’t work in Plymouth Colony and it won’t work now.

Amplifying on the video, what we didn’t learn in school is that nearly half of those Pilgrims who sailed here from England on the Mayflower died of starvation in their first winter of 1621. In fact, the governor of the colony, William Bradford, wrote that the colonists went hungry because many refused to work in the fields.

It seems that Plymouth colony had the equivalent of a modern-day socialist economy. Land and crops were held in common, and food was distributed based on need, not on production. The most able young men complained that they were asked to work hard for the benefit of other men’s families.

Finally, after the poor harvest of 1622, Bradford decided to give each household its own plot of land. They could keep what they produced or trade their crops for things they needed. The result was a truly bountiful harvest in 1623 and in the years that followed. It was instituting private property and a free market economy at Plymouth and other colonies that led to our annual Thanksgiving celebrations.

So, this Thanksgiving, let’s teach our children, and anyone in the Occupy movement willing to listen, an economic lesson that the Pilgrims had to learn the hard way: Socialism is a recipe for scarcity and starvation. Private property and free markets lead to prosperity and plenty.

From all of us at Cascade Policy Institute…Happy Thanksgiving.

Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.